Star Trek: The Next Generation/Recap/S3/E16 The Offspring

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Data has been acting unusually secretively since returning from a cybernetics conference. The reason soon becomes clear when he calls in Geordi, Troi, and (for whatever reason) Wesley to meet his creation: Lal, an android patterned after himself, whom he regards as his child.

Picard is at first hesitant (well, to be fair, furious) about this development, particularly about not having been told ahead of time, and is not particularly assuaged when Data points out that nobody else on the ship has to get his permission to procreate. He does grudgingly admit that Data is probably the best person to guide Lal into sentience, and that if the two of them have decided that they are father and daughter, nobody else has the right to tell them otherwise.

Starfleet, it turns out, does not agree. They decide that Lal should be moved to an advanced research facility, and specifically outside of Data's influence. And then send over an officious Admiral to ensure that this be so.

Meanwhile, Data is teaching Lal everything he can about humans and functioning in human society. In order to giver her better opportunity to observe humans in their natural habitat, he apprentices Lal to Guinan, where she spends her time serving drinks and wondering loudly why humans sometimes feel the need to bite each other. When Guinan explains about kissing, she decides to try it out on the first available candidate she sees - Commander Riker, just back from shore leave, and probably the only person on the ship who doesn't know what's going on by this point.

The officious Admiral arrives, his decision to remove Lal already made. But Lal, rather than having a stunted development, seems to actually have exceeded Data's abilities. Not only does she use contractions, but she also starts experiencing actual emotions. Unfortunately, the emotion is fear at the prospect of being forcibly parted from her father. Data and Picard have had no particular success at convincing the Admiral to change his mind, and he goes so far as to order Data to hand Lal over. This breach of basic civil rights (which Data was granted back in "The Measure Of A Man") so offends Picard that he puts his own career on the line to oppose it.

The point turns out to be moot, however. Lal's emotions were apparently an early symptom of a fatal cascade fault. Data and the Admiral put aside their differences to try to save her, but their efforts are ultimately in vain.

Tropes used in The Offspring include:

Lal: Then, without understanding humor, I have somehow mastered it.


Data: Commander - I would like to know what your intentions are regarding my daughter.
Riker: Your daughter????